Institutional Review Board (IRB) for Human Subject research

In the interest of protecting the safety of Haverford College students and personnel, and of complying with federal regulations, all research involving human subjects, whether externally funded or not, must be first approved by its Institutional Review Board (IRB) for Human Subject Research.

  • The term ‘research’ is intended to cover any type of investigation that is meant for print, web-based, or broadcast publication, i.e., whose results will in some form be available to the public, regardless of whether public funding is sought.
  • IRB approval is required for research performed by employees and students of the College, and to research by outside individuals or groups involving Haverford students or taking place on its campus.

Certain categories of human subject research (for instance: non-sensitive and anonymous surveys and some pedagogical research) are exempt from the federal human subject research regulations. Those wishing to undertake such exempt research should still obtain confirmation of the exempt status by filling out and submitting the Exemption Request Form (use the link to the right).

A faculty or staff member wishing to initiate research involving human subjects is expected to submit a detailed proposal describing the research. Haverford students must prepare a proposal jointly with a sponsoring faculty member. Investigators must complete the National Institutes of Health "Protecting Human Research Participants" course (, or receive equivalent training.

A proposal application form may be downloaded using the link on the right-hand side column. All submissions or re-submissions of IRB proposals or exemption requests should be sent to as a single electronic file in .pdf format. The proposal form may be "printed" as a pdf file (on Windows this requires installation of Adobe Acrobat). Appendices may be added to the pdf file using Adobe Acrobat or Macintosh Preview.  If revisions are required, proposers should send a new file containing the complete revised proposal and in the cover letter (email) note which pages have been changed relative to the original.

The IRB usually is able to reach a decision on a proposal within 2 or 3 weeks (4 to 6 weeks during the summer). Proposals are approved for a period of up to one year from the date of the approval letter. At or before the conclusion of this period, the faculty/staff investigator or sponsor should submit either a final report or a request for continuation, using the form linked below.

More details of IRB operations and criteria for reviewing proposals are given in the IRB procedures document, available for download to the right. Also included is a link to a checklist that may be useful both to proposers and IRB members.